Hypothyroidism is a common, treatable disorder that currently is poorly managed by Western medicine with the current drug-based approach. Over the many years of practice, I have seen many hundreds of patients exhibiting many of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, yet come back completely normal on the blood-tests and they are deemed euthyroid (meaning “well” thyroid).
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What Is Hypothyroidism?
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped bi-lobed gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Did you know that every single aspect of your metabolism, from the rate at which your heart beats to how quickly you burn calories, is precisely regulated by thyroid hormones?
As long as your thyroid releases the right amounts of these hormones at the right time, your system functions normally and like clockwork. But sometimes your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, or produces far too much of one hormone. This imbalance can upset this precision and resulting in an imbalance in your body. This condition that is commonly known as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a common, treatable disorder that currently is poorly managed by Western medicine with the current drug-based approach. Over the many years of practice, I have seen many hundreds of patients exhibiting many of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, yet come back completely normal on the blood-tests and they are deemed “euthyroid” (meaning “well” thyroid). As long as the blood tests are deemed normal, then everything must be OK according to the doctor.
What about my hair loss, and the blood tests show everything is OK?
What about my unbelievable tiredness band weakness, and the blood tests show everything is OK?
What about my sensitivity to sunlight and the blood tests show everything is OK
What about a lump in the neck and the blood tests show everything is OK?
But doctor, what about my inability to lose any weight, in spite of exercise and strict diet, and the blood tests show everything is OK?
Doctor: “But it can’t be your thyroid because the blood tests are all within parameters and looking fine to me”.
Initially when you have hypothyroidism, you may have few noticeable symptoms, or you may just feel tired and sluggish. The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary widely, depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. Be careful before self-diagnosing: The below mentioned signs and symptoms can also be attributed to many other illnesses. Many people falsely attributing their weight gain to an under active thyroid, when in fact it may be simply that they never exercise.
Fatigue – the most common symptom
Voice – can be hoarse
Eyes – can be gritty, burning, itchy, blurry, puffy eyelids.
Skin – can become dry, cold, rough and scaly.
Sex drive – none or poor.
Cholesterol elevated – unexplained high or resistant levels.
Skin itchy – in various places, itchy patches.
Hair – becomes coarse, brittle and grows slowly or may fall out excessively.
Eyebrows thinning – losing outer 1/3 of eyebrow.
Sensitivity to cold – feelings of being chilly in rooms of normal temperature.
Difficult for a person to sweat – perspiration may be decreased or even absent even during heavy exercise and hot weather.
Constipation – resistant to magnesium supplementation and other mild laxatives is also another common symptom.
Difficulty in losing weight – despite rigid adherence to a strict diet seems to be a common finding especially in women.
If You Suspect Hypothyroidism, Don’t Give Up!
I hope you find this article about low-functioning thyroid conditions of relevance, it just may help you determine if you have a potential thyroid complaint which needs further investigation and perhaps may even warrant possible treatment. Don’t give up! Many patients who have seen me over the years with thyroid issues were at the point of giving up, they couldn’t find any answers to their many and varied health problems. Tr There is NO “one size fits all” when it comes to improving thyroid function.
Like many clinicians who specialise in this area, I’ve used many different types of therapy for hypothyroid patients over the years, including specific minerals, vitamins, herbal medicines in addition to many and varied glandular extracts. When I practiced alongside medical doctors for several years I also recommended whole thyroid (desiccated thyroid gland, porcine), T3 and combinations of T3 and T4 (Thyroxine, otherwise known as Synthroid). Today I still have many connections with medical doctors and regularly recommend various pharmaceutical preparations including levothyroxine (T4) which can be of significant benefit to some hypothyroid patients.
Dr. John Lee – The Thyroid Expert
I was fortunate enough to attend a most informative seminar held in New Zealand in 2004 by Dr John Lee, leading thyroid expert from Australia. Dr Lee specialises in thyroid conditions. I was amazed to see so many medical doctors sit up and take notice when it came to Dr. Lee discussing the many pitfalls and “errors of judgement” when it came to identifying, recognising and then effectively treating the thyroid patient.
Dr. Lee helps patients in his clinic with hormonal imbalances with natural hormone therapies. The seminar was very well attended with a mixture of general medical practitioners as well as the odd natural medicine practitioner. Dr. Lee mentioned that giving conventional Synthroid or Levothyroxin (T4) was not a good idea. Each patient with an under active thyroid (hypothyroidism) requires careful balancing when it comes to their nutritional requirements. Some need selenium, many need iodine assessment and supplementation. Yet many others will benefit from a thyroid glandular supplement.
Are Hypothyroid Patients Actually Adrenally Fatigued?
I have found it generally always best to first make sure the patient is not adrenally fatigued before I start to treat for hypothyroidism, unless the patient has an obvious (sometimes not so obvious!) iodine, selenium, zinc or other deficiency. The reason being is that many practitioners will mistakenly treat the patient for a hypo functioning thyroid, when in fact the adrenal glands are not functioning that well. Besides, the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue are very similar. You may find this article of great help to determine whether you are hypothyroid or adrenally fatigued.In New Zealand where I live, minerals like zinc, selenium and iodine deficiencies are common indeed. At times I have seen “miracles” occur with patients when all they did was take some iodine or selenium into their diets. Unfortunately, not all cases are that simple and for this reason I recommend that if you suspect an adrenal or thyroid problem – that you approach a health -care professional for proper assessment and treatment.
Many people, especially women (but also plenty of men) older than age 40, have an under-active thyroid. Men can also get hypothyroidism. Because hypothyroidism usually develops slowly, only about half of all cases are diagnosed early.
A high prevalence is partly due to low selenium, zinc and iodine levels in the person’s diet.
About 15% of women aged 35 to 60 are affected to some degree by hypothyroidism.
15% – 20% of women over the age of 60 are affected by sub-clinical hypothyroidism.
50% of people who have it are unaware that they have hypothyroidism.
Most subclinical cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed. When blood levels of thyroid hormones are found to be normal, the patient is deemed to be “euthyroid”, or having a normal functioning thyroid (inspite of having signs & symptoms). Hypothyroidism is believed to be more prevalent than once thought, with up to 1 in 10 of the population is believed to be affected by some degree of hypothyroidism.
TSH: The BIG Myth
A 2018 study: “Although measurement of TSH is a convenient screen for thyroid function, it is influenced by many factors which may affect its overall reliability. We believe thyroid function should be assessed by more than a single test.”
An interesting point which Dr Lee made was the inaccuracy of the current way of blood- testing patients to determine whether somebody is hypothyroid. So, when a doctor checks your blood for three thyroid hormone markers, they are basing this generally on the reading of the hormone called TSH (thyroid stimulating level).
These tests should be abandoned because they are unreliable as gauges of thyroid function. We should be favouring the temperature test instead, according to Dr. Lee. The most common traditional way to diagnose hypothyroidism is with a TSH that is elevated beyond the normal reference range. The big myth that persists regarding thyroid diagnosis is that an elevated TSH level is required before a diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be made. There is no question that this will diagnose hypothyroidism, but it is far too insensitive a measure, and the vast majority of patients who have hypothyroidism, particularly those patients who are classified as sub-clinical, will be missed.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that treatment of hypothyroidism with combination thyroid hormone (T4, T3) therapy is more effective than treatment with Thyroxine (T4) alone.
The Barnes Basal Temperature Test
There is one simple thing almost anyone can do at home to uncover an under- functional thyroid: take your own temperature. The “basal body temperature” test was developed by Dr Broda Barnes, PhD, a physician who, for decades, helped raise the consciousness of both doctors and their patients regarding the risks and prevalence of hypothyroidism and weak thyroid function. His book 3 still remains as the best clinical description of the syndrome.Because thyroid hormone is so vital to cellular metabolism, reduced thyroid function manifests as a drop in body temperature to below the normal level of 36.7 C (98.6F).
Dr. Barnes: “But the problem remains two fold: the need for recognition that low thyroid function very often can provoke menstrual problems, and the need for recognition, too, that hypothyroidism may be present despite laboratory tests suggesting it is not”.
Use a digital thermometer, they are the easiest & most accurate ones to use.
Leave it there for 5 minutes (or until it beeps!) and record the temperature for a whole month. Do this before you get out of bed (the normal temperature on rising will be between 36.4 Centigrade to 36.9 Centigrade. (97.8 – 98.2 Fahrenheit). Check and record the temp also a couple of times at regular intervals throughout the day.
I’d recommend an Excel spreadsheet (computer), otherwise draw up a chart with the columns date, morning temp, These recorded levels will help establish your temperature trend, which becomes easy to plot over a month..
If your temperature is 36.1 Centigrade or less for 3 to 5 consecutive days, one could conclude that the thyroid function is fairly compromised. You may have hypothyroidism. However, it could also indicate adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. Head for your Naturopath or nutritionally oriented GP.
Even if you have had a blood test and were told you did not have a low thyroid reading, you might go back and look at the results again. You may find that your blood levels of thyroid hormones are actually low normal. Many people who are within the so-called “normal” range but below the midpoint could benefit tremendously from thyroid treatment.
If you miss a reading or a day, that is ok, but try to be consistent.
I would also recommend doing a hair analysis if you suspect hypothyroidism. It is one way to determine your level of iodine, selenium, zinc, which are critical in thyroid hormone metabolism. Hair is also a screening tool for the presence of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic or cadmium, all which may bind with selenium, reducing the amount available to convert T4 (the inactive hormone) to T3 (the active form), remembering that selenium is already in short supply due to deficiencies in the average diet. Many people present to their doctors and naturopaths with mineral deficiencies, a simple test such as a hair analysis can help pinpoint the problem. Check with your health-care practitioner about hair-analysis.
Natural Thyroid Treatment
Iodine: It is estimated the thyroid gland must capture approximately 60 mcg iodide daily to ensure an adequate supply for thyroid hormone synthesis. Ensure you eat sea minerals or have seafood in your diet. Kelp is a good source of iodine. We have seen several patients loose significant amounts of weight just by taking kelp tablets as part of their diet. This is definitely worth a try, particularly if you have tried everything to loose weight and your neck is enlarged.
Although doctors generally recommend synthetic thyroxine (T4) for hypothyroid, it is important to remember that you do have options, you can take charge of your health and what you take, and do not necessarily have to stay on prescribed thyroxine for life. Natural treatment options are now available for the natural hormone management of thyroid conditions.
Again, this is one condition I would not give advice regarding what to take, without consulting with the patient on an individual basis. I would never recommend self-medication when it comes to the thyroid, it is always best to consult your health-care professional. You nutritionally-oriented Doctor or Naturopath can best help you with your natural treatment of hypothyroidism.
1. The many benefits of natural thyroid. Life Enhancement. February 2001.
2. Bunevicius, R., et al. Effects of thyroxine as compared with thyroxine plus triiodothyronine in patients with hypothyroidism. New England Journal of Medicine. 340(6):424-429, 1999.
3. “Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness”, 1976, Dr Broda Barnes, PhD.